Sickle cell disease: Finding the positives

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Find tips to help you find the positives in your life instead of focusing on the negatives, which can increase your positive emotions over time and reduce your pain.

Key points

  • People tend to focus on the negative parts of their life when they are feeling low, stressed or in pain, which can make their negative feelings worse.
  • Shifting your attention towards the positive parts of your life can make you more aware of the good things that happen every day, increase your positive emotions, reduce pain and make it easier to do enjoyable activities.
  • Different people will have different positives. Try to focus on whatever is positive for you.
  • To practise finding the positives, try scheduling time to think about or write down some positive things. Do this activity every day around the same time, and the skill will come more naturally to you over time.

When people are feeling low, or even when they are stressed or in pain, they typically focus on the negative parts of their life.

Think about a day when you were feeling low, stressed or in pain.

1. What did you focus on?

2. How did it make you feel?

Living with sickle cell disease can be hard at times, but it can be really helpful to try to shift your attention towards the positive aspects of your life. Doing so can help you become more aware of good things that happen every day, both big and small.

Over time, this can help to increase your positive emotions. As a bonus, it can also reduce your pain and make it easier for you to do your enjoyable activities.

Figuring out the positives for you

Blue, bean-shaped Copey character roasting a marshmallow over a campfire

Positives can be different things for different people. They can be:

  • things that you are grateful for (such as the ability to walk, a good friend, a close family member, a place to live)
  • positive things that happen in your day (such as someone opening a door for you, a funny joke from a friend or a smile from someone at school)

Here are some other examples of positives you might notice if you are looking out for them.

  • Seeing something beautiful, like a sunset or a flower
  • Eating or drinking something tasty
  • Playing with an animal
  • Having a good talk with someone
  • Receiving a compliment
  • Showing or receiving kindness, patience or another nice quality
  • Accomplishing a goal, no matter how small
  • Making a plan for something in the future

The goal is to focus your attention on whatever is positive for you.

Scheduling time to find the positives

Two Copey characters playing Jenga, and a third character sits behind on a couch with a book on their lap

The more you try and find the positives, the better you will feel and the more this skill will come naturally to you. But like everything you have been learning in this program, it takes practice!

Here are some tips for scheduling time to find the positives.

Focus on quality over quantity

You don’t need to think of 100 positive things each day, or even 10. Start by searching for just one or two each day. Over time, this might increase naturally or stay the same. It doesn’t matter either way. You might choose to write down the positives or just think about them.

Be consistent

To start with, try to look for positives every day at around the same time. Other teens have used the time just before going to bed, just after dinner or on the way home from school to think back over their day and take note of the positive things in their lives.

Example of finding the positives

Check out what Serena said about her experience trying to find positives.

“I was OK except when I was in pain. Then I felt really frustrated at the world and sad for myself. On those days, it was really hard to find positive things in my day. The first time I tried it, I couldn’t think of much. But then I remembered that I passed a test at school. I didn’t get a great mark, but I didn’t fail, which was good because I had missed lots of school. I wrote that down as my positive for the day.

Over the next few weeks, it slowly got easier to find the positives. It was really easy to find positives when I wasn’t in pain, so I wrote down more things on those days. Even though I did feel better after I found a few positives, the biggest change was when I read back through the list I had made and saw so many different positive things. When the pain is getting me down, I read my long list of positives and it helps me feel better.”

Last updated: January 4th 2024